Do you love traveling and aspire to go cross country at the helm of an 18-wheeler, but having trouble fitting your CDL test in your busy schedule?  If this describes you, please read on so you can fully prepare to make this dream a reality.

Can you take a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) Test online? The short answer is no.  However, there are portions of the test that can be taken on the computer.

Read on to learn more about what you need to do to take your CDL test and which parts can be taken on a computer.

Can I Take the General Knowledge Tests Online?

Today there are so many online options that it seems logical to ask this question. Typically, the general knowledge portion of the test is written. However, there are some locations that offer computer testing.  So, yes, you can take the test on a computer, but you still need to go to the DMV to complete it.  You can’t sit in the comfort of your home and take the exam.

While this may be frustrating, it is important to remember this is a very important step in obtaining your CDL and is a test of your knowledge, which means it needs to be administered in a secured environment with a proctor.

Most people would be honest if testing at home, but you know there are always going to be those people that would sit at home looking through their book to answer every single question instead of studying and truly knowing the information

I don’t know about you, but I would prefer the individuals behind the wheels of these massive vehicles have a strong knowledge of the machine they have been entrusted to operate.  Plan to visit the DMV to take your assessment, whether on paper or on the computer.

I Know I Want My CDL, What Steps Do I Take?

When you finally make the decision to pursue your dream of obtaining your CDL, there are several steps that you must take first.  Getting your CDL is not impossible, but it does require planning and preparation on your part.  Below you will see the basic steps necessary to obtain your CDL.

  1. You MUST have a current and valid driver’s license.
  2. Apply for a commercial learner’s permit
  3. Practice for the driving portion of the exam.
  4. Schedule a road test.

To ensure that you are following the correct steps and procedures to procure your CDL it is important to visit your state DMV site.

What Are the Parts of The CDL Test?

There are very specific components in the CDL test.  Depending upon the endorsement you are hoping to achieve, the components will vary.  Every test will consist of a written knowledge portion, a skills portion, and at least one endorsement segment as well as an air brake test.

What Endorsements Can I Apply For?

A quick visit to a specific CDL website will explain each endorsement you may be able to obtain.  The endorsements you can hope to achieve are;

  1. Passenger Transport (P)
  2. School Bus/Passenger Transport Combined (S)
  3. Double/Triples (T)
  4. Tank/Vehicle (N) (Tanker)
  5. Hazardous Materials (H) (HAZMAT)
  6. Tanker/HAZMAT combo (X)

You can obtain your CDL with only one endorsement. However, this will limit the work options you have.  The more endorsements you obtain, the more marketable and flexible you can be with job opportunities.  Once you have your CDL, you can easily add endorsements.

How Do I Choose an Endorsement?

Deciding to get your CDL is a big decision and requires careful thought when choosing the route, you want to go with endorsements.  When looking at endorsements, it is important to think about what your career goals are.  If you aspire to drive a tour bus cross country, you are not going to need to worry about a tanker or HAZMAT endorsement.

How Much Does Each Endorsement Cost?

When looking at such an extensive set of exams, cost is something to keep in mind.  The good news is that CDL endorsements are inexpensive.  There isn’t a set amount and the cost varies by state, but most endorsements are around $20.  Again, for specific pricing, you will need to check with your local DMV.

How Do I Apply for a Commercial Learner’s Permit?

Before you can even begin to determine endorsements and skills tests, you first must obtain your learner’s permit.  This step is like your initial driver’s license.  It provides you with the opportunity to legally get behind the wheel of a big rig with the help of an individual that is licensed to drive the vehicle.

Before you can obtain your learner’s permit, you must pass the written knowledge portion of the CDL exam.  Be sure to visit the DMV in person or online to determine which knowledge exams you need to take and pass before registering.

Because the written portion of the exam is critical to obtaining your learner’s permit and ultimately license, be sure to take advantage of the online materials available.

How Can I Prepare for The Written Portion of the Test?

Now that you know the steps to take to obtain your CDL, you are probably wondering how in the world you are going to adequately prepare for the exams. I am going to offer a word of caution. You cannot or should not plan to “wing” these tests.  They will require a time commitment to study and fully know the material.

Like any career, you are going to be viewed as an expert in this field.  Make sure you are studying and getting all the information you possibly can before taking your exam.

If you go online and search for CDL preparation, there are many sites and resources that will come up in the search.  Remember, you cannot trust everything you read online.  I know you may be surprised to hear this, but anyone can put something online.  You may be reading information placed online by someone that has failed their CDL.

You want a reliable source to prepare for the exams.  The best place you can go is your local/state DMV site. When you get to the site, you will be able to access and online document that will tell you everything you need to know about your specific endorsement.

If you are unable to go online, visit your local DMV to pick up a hard copy of the manual.  Personally, I find value in having a paper copy to study from.  If you have a paper copy, you can write on it, take it with you or have others help you to study for the exam.  However, it is up to you how you choose to study. Just make sure you study!

Are There Practice Tests to Take?

When you are studying for your CDL, it would be helpful to practice with an authentic test.  The general knowledge portion of the test is probably unlike anything you have seen before. Because it covers such a range of information, there are A LOT of questions, and you need to be prepared.

If you search for practice CDL exams, a lot of sites will come up, but you must be careful when choosing your practice exam because they are not all the same.  Be certain that you choose the practice exam the matches the endorsement you are studying for.

One place you may want to check for your state and endorsement specific practice tests is driving-tests.org  This website offers support for any area of driving you are testing in. However, you may find a website or location that is more conducive to your learning and studying style to prepare for the exam.

Can You Take a CDL Test in Spanish?

Perhaps you speak English as a second language and would prefer to take the exam in Spanish.  In the past, all states were required to administer the assessment in English, but a few states have begun to offer the test in Spanish.

Laws are constantly changing, so it would be advantageous to reach out to your local DMV to see if taking the test in Spanish is an option in your state.

It is also important to specify which endorsement you are hoping to add to your license because not all endorsements are available in English and Spanish.

Can I Obtain a Study Guide in Spanish?

While most states still require the actual test to be administered in English, the manual from which you study is available in Spanish.  The Spanish version of the manual is available online and in person at your local DMV.

Can I Use an Interpreter When Taking My Test?

Often the DMV will provide interpreters as needed for assessments, but the CDL exam is an exception. Interpreters are not allowed when an individual is taking their CDL test.

I’m Ready to Register for My CDL Test, What Do I Need?

When you register for your CDL test, there are specific documents that you will need to take to the DMV with you.  Be sure to have these documents on the day that you register because you will be turned away if you don’t.  Trust me, the last thing you want to do is spend multiple days waiting in the line at the DMV.

  1. Current Identification (driver’s license)
  2. Proof of residency
    1. There will be a historical check on your residency. This typically goes back several years.
  3. Citizenship status
  4. Assessment fees
    1. These fees vary by state and endorsement. The collection of these fees may also differ between states.  Some states will request the entire amount up front, while others require portions of the payment as you go through the assessment process.

If you choose not to bring these items with you, you will be turned away and asked to return with the proper documentation.  There are also some endorsements that require a medical background and health check to be completed (not just your vision).  It is wise to carefully check the manual to determine if your endorsement has this requirement.

There are also age restrictions in many states.  If you are under the age of 18, you will not be able to begin the CDL certification process.  In some states, if you are under the age of 21, you cannot legally drive across state lines.  Again, take the time to research these regulations before beginning the application process. If you have any questions regarding these items, your local DMV can answer them for you.

What do I do When I’m Ready to Turn in My Application?

Once you have taken the time to gather all the required materials and documentation, you are ready to turn in your application to fully begin your CDL journey.  Sometimes, it is as easy as hopping into the DMV line, but there are locations that require an appointment to turn in application materials.

To determine if you need an appointment or can just show up at the DMV, check the website or call to find out specifics. This is already a lengthy process; you don’t want to spend unnecessary time waiting in lines.

How Do I Prepare for the Skills Part of the Test?

The skills portion of the test is the actual driving.  In order to begin preparing for this part of the test, you need to have obtained your learners permit. This is only obtained once you have passed the written or computer based general knowledge portion of the test.

Once you have passed, you are eligible to begin practicing with a licensed driver, but ONLY in the area of your endorsement.  When you are practicing with your “supervisor,” they must be sitting next to you during driving.

The rules of driving with a CDL permit are synonymous with those of a learner’s permit for a car.  Don’t try to practice alone and know that you have a permit for a limited amount of time.  Typically, the permit lasts for 45 days before you need to test for your actual license.

How do I Find a Supervisor to Help Me Practice?

Maybe you are beginning this CDL adventure completely on your own and don’t have a friend that is currently a CDL driver.  If this is the case, you may be worried about how you will be able to practice with someone that has experience.

Have no fear! CDL school is here!  No, but really there are schools that specialize in teaching people how to drive CDL vehicles.  If you don’t have a friend to drive with you, you are going to have to find one of these schools.  Whatever you do, don’t try to take the skills test without practicing first. It won’t end well for you.

If you are working closely with a specific trucking company, chances are they already have a program in place to help you learn how to drive the trucks.  It is important to iron out these details early so you can plan.

What is The Cost of Driving School?

If you know you will need to hire someone to teach you the skills needed to drive for your CDL, you are probably wondering what the out of pocket cost will be to you. Unfortunately, there isn’t a set amount across states and companies.

These schools are independent companies, so they set their own rates for driving school.  Most of the schools I researched offer packages of lessons with different price points.  Basically, if you want to take more lessons, you are going to have to pay more. If you want a bare bones practice package with minimal driving lessons, you will pay less.

When choosing a driving school, it is important to take into consideration what you need as far as practice goes.  If you have spent a lot of time in big rigs and are very familiar with the inner workings of the vehicle, your practice time may be shorter than someone that has never experienced a big rig.

It is also important to remember that you get what you pay for.  In this situation, it is going to be best to go to a reputable driving school.  This is not just a test; you are taking a test that is going to change the trajectory of your future.  You owe it to yourself to work with experienced and competent drivers.  Let me just say it, because I know you are thinking it.  Experience doesn’t always mean competent.  Do your research before trusting someone to teach you the ropes.

How Long Will the Process Take?

You’ve made it this far reading about all the requirements for your CDL, and now you are probably wondering how long all of this will take.  Like I stated earlier, this is a lengthy and in-depth process that takes time.

On average, it takes an individual at least 7 weeks to fully obtain their CDL.  If you are a more conscientious individual that takes extra time to prepare, it will probably take longer for you to obtain your license.

The important thing to remember is that you cannot compare your journey to anyone else.  The length of time you take is up to you.  You are going to be spending a lot of time behind the wheel, so preparation is key.

Let’s Get Trucking

Now that you have all the facts and details, you are ready to head to your computer or local DMV to begin the process.

Although the assessment may not be offered in alternate languages, you have plenty of time to prepare and will hopefully be able to obtain the support necessary for you to be successful with the exam.  Always remembering that this is not a time sensitive exam. You have plenty of time to prepare.

Be sure to get your state’s CDL manual to ensure you are properly preparing for the exam. It would also be wise to line up a driving school ahead of time as well.

Happy studying, and most of all, happy trucking!

SHARE:

About The Author

Blythe Brumleve
Blythe Brumleve
Former editor in chief and broadcaster turned business owner helping companies with their web and marketing goals. Apathetic fan of the Jacksonville Jaguars and Game of Thrones supporter.

To read more about Blythe, check out her full bio here.

Digital Media Playbooks for the logistics industry.

Spend your digital dollars where it matters

Freight School Playbook is an affordable membership site with unlimited access to courses covering content marketing, podcasting, in-house video, auditing/analytics of your digital media efforts, lead generation and more.

Save thousands on your next digital project by giving your team (or yourself) a leg up on the latest online trends—built for the logistics industry